Monday, August 14, 2006

Give Them the Tools They Need

“Britain's successful preemption of an Islamicist plot to destroy up to 10 civilian airliners over the Atlantic Ocean proves that surveillance, and other forms of information-gathering, remain an essential weapon in prosecuting the war on terror. There was never any real doubt of this, of course. Al Qaeda's preferred targets are civilians, and civilians have a right to be protected from such deliberate and calculated attacks. Denying the terrorists funding, striking at their bases and training camps, holding accountable governments that promote terror and harbor terrorists, and building democracy around the world are all necessary measures in winning the war. None of these, however, can substitute for anticipating and thwarting terror operations as the British have done. This requires the development and exploitation of intelligence.

Despite this self-evident truth, critics of President Bush and the war on terror have relentlessly opposed virtually every effort to expand and improve the government's ability to gather the type of information needed to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, whether in the form of the Patriot Act's "national security" letters and delayed notification warrants (derisively described by pseudo-civil libertarians as "sneak and peak" warrants), the NSA's once secret program to intercept al Qaeda communications into and out of the U.S., and the Treasury Department's efforts to monitor financial transactions through the "SWIFT" system. These, and similar measures, are among the tools that we will need to finish the job...” – Today’s Wall Street Journal, “The British Way”

David Rivkin and Lee Casey's op-ed delivers a spot-on analysis of how the Brits are afforded greater flexibility in their fight on terrorism, and how we need greater latitude here at home in order to ferret out terrorists.

This is what Michael Chertoff has been calling for, and he’s exactly right. The Department of Homeland Security chief told Fox News yesterday that we need the ability to be as nimble as possible with surveillance. That’s what gives the Brits an advantage over the U.S. right now, along with their ability to hold suspects for a longer period of time.

We need to use all the tools we possibly can in catching terrorists. The big question right now is whether we’re using all the tools available to us, or whether the liberal-ACLU-left is compromising our fight against these evildoers.

Another thought here is that Bush should get out there and make this “the” election year issue. There’s really no greater issue. All the politicians ought to be put on record where they stand. Bush needs to make a strong push here.

By the way, it’s not enough for the GOP to label Dems soft on terrorism—Republicans need to get specific, offer concrete proposals, and make Dems reveal their cards. If the Dems want to get tough on this issue (finally), well fine, God bless ‘em.

But if they’re going to fall back and blindly support civil liberties during wartime that is not fine, and they need to be called out for it. They’ll pay dearly for it on November 7th.

Incidentally, Ned Lamont looked like a deer in headlights on Fox News yesterday when he was asked about security. When Chris Wallace asked a befuddled Ned Lamont whether there was any specific measure in the Patriot Act he wanted removed, Lamont hemmed and hawed something about defending librarians. Huh?

Its not the librarians I’m worried about, it’s the terrorists. Someone needs to give Ned Lamont, and the rest of the national security-saboteurs a serious wake-up call.

Get out of the way and give the men and women charged with the enormous responsiblity of protecting American lives all the tools they need.